The Ramsbottom Town Centre Plan was approved by the Council's Cabinet on 9th March 2022 following consideration toward all responses received from the consultation exercise.
The Ramsbottom Town Centre Plan ('the plan') sets out a vision for the town centre which will support the town's ongoing success and guide future interventions in the short, medium and long term. The vision is supported by a series of high-level proposals and concepts that look to enhance the town centre for local residents, the businesses community and visitors.
Following a period of public consultation (4th January 2022 to 15th February 2022, with an extension until the 21st February 2022 to allow for some businesses to respond), the final plan was approved by the Council's Cabinet on 9th March 2022. It is an informal, non-statutory document that will become a material planning consideration, which will be used as a tool to guide investment and development in the town centre.
All the proposals in the plan will require further detailed work and surveys where necessary, which would be subject to further engagement and consultation with stakeholders before being implemented.
Therefore, it is expected that over the next few years, Ramsbottom town centre will have built on its reputation as one of the best places in the region to live, visit and work. It will be an even more attractive and vibrant destination for its residents, visitors, and workers, supported by the East Lancashire Railway, a high-quality restaurant scene, a good range of independent retailers, a popular annual events programme and high-quality workspace for those wishing to base their businesses locally.
The town centre environment and experience of its users will be improved with new and enhanced areas of public realm and event space, improved linkages and better car parking arrangements that will encourage active travel and improve movement and circulation throughout the town.
74 percent of responses received definitely agreed or somewhat agreed with the vision for Ramsbottom Town Centre. As a result of the consultation exercise, a number of small changes were made to the plan of which the key ones were:
- Purpose of the Plan: strengthening that it remains a high-level document and all the potential proposals included will require detailed design, detailed surveys where needed, and be subject to further consultation before being progressed.
- Bridge Street and Bolton Street: wording amended to provide further clarity and recognition that alternative routes for the movement of traffic (including HGVs) are limited and detailed feasibility work will be required before any proposals are further consulted on. This is in recognition that the local businesses are vitally important to the town's local economy. The proposals in the plan are now referred to as longer-term concepts.
- Eastern Gateway: the right turn only when exiting Railway Street proposal has been removed from the plan and this part of the wider proposal will only be considered alongside any wider improvements and changes to the road network.
- Bridge Street Gardens: consultation feedback highlighted that existing town centre green spaces should be included in the proposals. Bridge Street Gardens has now been included as part of the Eastern Gateway proposals.
Funding, delivery and next steps
Proposals will be brought forward as funding is identified and secured. Detailed designs will be required for each proposal, and these will be subject to further and more detailed consultation with stakeholders.
However, some early funding opportunities have been identified which, subject to further community consultation will help to support the delivery of the following short-term proposals:
- Active Travel: access to the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement to help facilitate new and/or improved cycling and walking facilities in and around the town.
- Enterprise Centre: the Council has successfully secured £50,000 Evergreen funding which could be used to help bring forward the proposed Enterprise Centre in the town.
- Parking Strategy: this is a priority for the town centre as clearly demonstrated by many of the consultation responses. There are resources in place for this to be carried out.
The Council will continue to explore funding opportunities to help take forward the key proposals within the plan, as well as continue to explore further proposals that will help to benefit local residents, businesses and visitors to Ramsbottom.